From Spring to Winter
The P-Word

G is for...

Many of you had some very good guesses for 'G'. Genealogy was a good one as the best Family History library in the world is here in Utah. Geology was a good guess too, as we have some of the most diverse and beautiful geology in the world here in Utah.  Grrlfriends was, of course, a great guess as that is one of the most important things in my life here in Utah and Utah Grrls rock!.  The best wrong guess was Green Jello from Julia. Check this link for recipes of favorite Utah Mormon dishes, like Green Jello and Funeral Potatoes.

But in my opinion, G must be for the Great Salt Lake.


Most pioneers were heading to Oregon or California and didn't think of settling here because of the lake, which in turn made it 'the place' for the Mormon pioneers. They wanted to be left alone to build their own society and make the desert blossom like a rose.

Marinawithstansbury_1 Smith and I had a sail boat on the lake for many years and enjoyed sailing in the spring and fall.  The lake is beautiful once you leave the stinky shore.  It is a challenge to have a boat on the lake as the salt will eat everything and you spend extra time maintaining the trim, deck and motor. There are bugs during the hot months of summer...especially spiders and brine flies. This orb spinning spider is only found around the lake and they love the Marina where the ropes and rigging's are perfect places for their webs. I could go on and on about this, but there are no good memories involved, so we'll move on.

There are 11 islands in the lake (which is about 80 miles long and 40 miles wide, bigger than Rhode Island).The large islands in the southern portion are named Antelope (this was my 'A  '), Stansbury (in the picture above), Fremont, and Carrington.  The smaller islands are named Badger, Hat (Bird), and Egg.  The four small islands in the northwestern portion are Dolphin, Gunnison, Cub, and Strongs Knob. You can see the lake and islands on this map, which shows how big the lake is and where SLC is in situated.

There is a secret in the lake, too. It's not a monster, it's a beautiful piece of art, created by Robert Smithson, called the Spiral Jetty.  The location is rather remote (therefore we have never visited) and when the lake is high the Jetty is hidden from view.  It's best viewed from the air.

The lake is at a low point after several years of drought. The normal average depth of the lake is around 12' and now it is low enough that some of the larger, fixed keel boats have trouble navigating the shallow waters.  At the moment the beaches are very wide and if you click the shoreline photo above you can see the salt, moss and, not so nice, sand. It doesn't smell very good either.  The white in the foreground of this photo is also salt and the actual lake water is only a thin line. (click to enlarge)


Ongoing conservation efforts strive to fix problems caused by man and ensure large wetland areas for migratory birds. Not only do we have California Gulls (our state bird) but, thousands of other birds live on the shoreline, including pelicans and a flamingo named Floyd (Pink Floyd...get it?). The link for Floyd has some other interesting information on the lake and also the story of how Floyd came to live on the lake.

This photo is of the Stansbury mountains to the south of the lake.

The Great Salt Lake does get a bad rap for it's smell, salinity, shoreline ick and bugs, but it can be a very nice place to visit. Antelope Island is a State Park with a visitors center and you can bike, hike and see the buffalo who live there. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is well worth the trip, especially if you are a bird watcher. Bald Eagles also winter in Farmington Bay  . We visit just to remind ourselves that the lake is a part of our Utah landscape.

Terry Tempest Williams book 'Refuge' is a beautifully written story of her mothers death and the demise of the bird refuge during the 1983 floods. It remains one of my favorite books and is worth reading over and over.

The winner of the contest (she got it right before last Friday's hint) is Sue M. in Spokane. I had no idea it would be so hard to guess and that so many Utah Grrls wouldn't know it either!  Thanks for playing along.   


I want a flamingo too! :) He is super cute!

What makes the lake so smelly?

Well, isn't Julia clever for guessing Green Jello.
Great, comprehensive post about The Lake. I'd only like to add that when the wind is just right, you can smell the disgusting, foul odor at my house; like 12 miles away! yuck!

Even though I didn't win the contest, at least I got it right. That counts for something.

Thank you for the geography, geology and history lesson. That's all fascinating stuff. I never knew it was so big, bigger than Rhode Island. Very cool.

This geography nerd thanks you for making my morning! Bigger than Rhode Island? wow.

When we were in Salt Lake City earlier this month, we didn't get down to the shoreline. That's very interesting. Loved you post today.

I love this post! Beautiful photos as always and such an education. Thank you - this is a Great G! :)

What a wonderful and informative post, Margene. Thank you!!!

What a fun history lesson! My husband will be happy to know that he got it right....haha! (Yes, I cheated a little.....he guessed, not me...LOL)

Excellent! So funny, just the other day, I thought, "Duh. Great Salt Lake." I love the question on the link that says, "What makes it so salty? The salt, of course!" Hee. Interesting story about Floyd, too.

I thought I was on a roll! I thought I'd win! :)

Beautiful pictures as always.

That's one of my favorite books too! I had a friend send it along just before we moved out here, and I keep it on my nightstand as a re-read. Great pictures!

amazing! i'm sourrounded by natural wonders here in north east florida also. thanks for showing me yours and to show you mine visit my blog...the pictures are up and more comming.

I knew it was Great Salt Lake, but couldn't get through the G-mail stuff to respond! We went searching for Spiral Jetty one trip out, but never found it. We have seen Antelope. Our first trip we went to the Salt Palace, which was neat, but my favorite view is up on the old railroad bed looking down.

The brine flies are what surprised me when we visited last summer. And I wondered how people could be swimming in the water with the smell. It's beautiful though.

I had a feeling it was the Great Salt Lake as well. We were there when I was eleven or twelve and I have a very vivid memory of handling brine shrimp along the shore. Thanks for sharing.

(JEEZ! Are we up to G already? It's so hard to keep up!)

Wow - I learned a lot from your post. Thanks for all the links. And, especially thanks for not being more elaborate about those spiders..........definite case of arachnaphobia here...........

Wow, I lived in Utah for more than 4 years and never knew half of this stuff!

I have so many great memories of sailing with you and Smith on the GSL. Remember watching fireworks on the 4th of July on the boat in the middle of the lake? I do get the creeps thinking of all the spiders that were sometimes on the boat!

That's fascinating! I would never have thought that a salt lake would smell bad... I'd have thought it would smell just like the ocean. And spiders? At a lake? For real? UGH. I fear spiders like I fear very few other things on this earth.

Even so, I'd like to see it some day. :-)

Thanks for all the links, Margene! I did not realize that Great Salt Lake was so large. I am an ocean type girl, but the lake would do in a pinch. It is the great size of these bodies of water that does it for me. They can be placid, but when Mother Nature wants to she can terrify us with their forces! Thanks, I will check out the links further!

I knew it would be the lake! Should have entered the contest, oh well. Anyways, I can't thank you enough for this post that reminded me so much of home. And isn't it funny how we Utahns take so much pride in being able to swallow the whole state of Rhode Island with our lake? Love it!

Having driven through Utah twice, I'm more familiar with the salt flats than the Great Salt Lake. Thanks for sharing - I didn't know there was art hiding in there!

What a wonderful post. Your stories and pics make me want to visit Utah, you show it to be such a gorgeous place. Thank you so much for sharing your home with all of us readers!

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